Please see: Citations per Faculty


For the calculation of this indicator, QS gathers two distinct datasets:

Citations count for six years for papers published over a five-year period

There are three major sources of publication and citation data worldwide, these are the Web of Science from Thomson Reuters; Scopus from Elsevier and Google Scholar. In the first three years of the QS World University Rankings™, results from the Essential Science Indicators (ESI),  a subset of the Web of Science were used. In 2007, the switch was made to Scopus for a number of reasons, but principally due to broader journal coverage leading to results for a larger number of institutions.

A key development in 2011 was the exclusion of self-citations. We use author-level definition of self-citations.

In 2015, two significant additional modifications were applied:

  1. Papers featuring authors from more than ten affiliated institutions have been excluded – this represents around 0.34% of the database and prevents highly cited material produced by very large research groups conferring too much credit on institutions who have only contributed in very small part to the work. Whilst often high-profile and important research, these papers often cause a distortion for a university that may not be especially research active otherwise.
  2. Faculty Area Normalization – due to publishing patterns and practices, a straight ratio of citations per faculty places a strong emphasis on life sciences and medicine. In consultation with advisors and participants, QS has opted to adopt a model which aims to equalize the influence of research in our five key faculty areas. A more detailed technical explanation of how this works can be found here.

In 2016, a further modification was made to the first of these changes. Rather than a fixed cap of ten affiliated institutions, we have applied an affiliation cap that is sensitive to the publishing patterns of the discipline to which a given paper belongs. In the previous approach, a larger proportion of papers in Physics would have been excluded when compared to Civil Engineering, for example. The variable cap has been calibrated to ensure that no more than 0.1% of research are excluded from any discipline. To find out how affiliation cap is calculated, please click here.

Full Time Equivalent (FTE) faculty

Faculty numbers used are totals… whilst it would be ideal to separate the notions of teaching and research and use the former for calculating the Student Faculty Ratio and the latter for this indicator, it has not been possible to do so as data to that degree of distinction has so far proved unavailable for many countries in the study. The definition of exactly what data we request has evolved gradually over the years to minimize ambiguity.


This indicator is calculated using data from Scopus, the world’s largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, which contains 47 million records and over 19,500 titles from 5,000 publishers worldwide.

Scopus is a rapidly evolving system and that’s why data included in the QS export may differ significantly from the current content of Scopus online.

Many commentators have suggested that, given the accepted validity of citations, this measure should carry a significantly higher weighting than it does. Ultimately, however, this places extremely strong emphasis both on medical and life sciences and on institutions from countries where the principal medium of instruction is English.

Whilst it has its critics, the Academic Reputation Survey places equal emphasis on Arts and Social Sciences as it does on Natural and Life Sciences. This is its great strength and, above all, the reason why it carries such a high weighting.

At time of writing, Scopus is working to add more books to its index, which ought to help in less scientific fields ad QS continue to seek alternative measures to evaluate outputs from lower citing disciplines.